Fired up is Pete Carroll’s default demeanor, but the Seahawks head coach seemed especially excited following Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft, a day that saw the Seahawks select San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny after trading back in the first round from No. 18 to No. 27.
“I don’t mind telling you, this pick fired me up,” Carroll said to open his and general manager John Schneider’s press conference. “I am jacked about this pick. John’s going to tell you all about it, but let it be known, this is an exciting pick.”
The Seahawks’ first move of the day was a trade with Green Bay that allowed the Seahawks to acquire a third-round pick (No. 76 overall), filling a big gap for a team that came into the day with no Day 2 picks. The Seahawks also added a sixth-round pick in that trade (186 overall) and sent a seventh-rounder (248) to Green Bay, which used the 18th pick on cornerback Jaire Alexander.
“We’re super excited we were able to move back,” Schneider said. “We feel really blessed we were able to move back with Green Bay and fill a void in the sixth round, fill a void in the third round. The third-round pick is No. 76 overall, it’s a real nice pick in our opinion. We still have a gap tomorrow, but we’re just really excited about Penny. Great kid.
“He’s a dynamic kickoff returner; he has returned seven career kickoffs (for touchdowns). He has two punt returns, took one to the house. Just incredible spatial awareness and instincts. Yeah, we’re just really excited.”
Carroll added, “Speed, durability, humble. Probably the part about this young man is that he’s humble, he’s ready to work. Whatever we want, he’ll do. The special teams accent is so unique, he’s really something. To be able to help Tyler (Lockett), take the burden off of Tyler at times—they’ll compete for all of the return stuff, which is great. He’s coming in here to compete, he knows that. We aren’t just handing him the job, he’s got to come in here and battle, which he’s ready to do. But he’s such an exciting player, and he’s so versatile and so dynamic. We know that every time he gets his hands on the ball, he can score a touchdown. And that’s in the running game and the passing game, because he’s very gifted catching the football and running routes as well.”
Two elements of Penny’s game that Schneider and Carroll mentioned on multiple occasions were his big-play ability and his durability—Penny didn’t miss a single game in his college career. Having a back who is both reliable and explosive could be a big part of Seattle improving its running game, something Carroll singled out as one of his team’s biggest goals earlier this offseason.
“We know the running game helps every aspect of our team,” Carroll said. “It helps our defense, it helps our special teams, and he will also be able to play on teams and be a factor. It’s a really exciting pick and I can’t wait to get him here and get going… It’s just a beautiful pick. There was another great runner in this draft, this was a fantastic draft for running backs. (No. 2 overall pick) Saquon Barkley, he’s an extraordinary player, we haven’t seen a guy like that in years, and this guy is right there in ability to make explosive plays and the big stuff happen.
“This is really the addition, the element we were hoping to factor into this season, along with the guys—we like our running back; we’ve got a good young room of guys who are all going to be competing—but this just gives us one more chance to really make it an explosive aspect to really help us in the run game by being able to run the ball inside and outside. He’s been a downhill runner, but he’s also been able to bounce the ball on the perimeter and take great advantage of that, whether he’s cutting back or going front side. He’s got a special way about him, he has big-play ability. That just makes such a difference when you’re defending us. We’ll figure out how it complements with the other fellas, but he’s going to bring something really explosive that’s going to be a great dynamic for our football team.”
Added Schneider: “He had some really interesting analytics stats about him with durability and run after first contact—of this (draft) group, he was No. 1 in both categories.”
Schneider said the Seahawks weren’t sure if they were going to be able to find a partner to move back, and were prepared to pick Penny at No. 18 had they not made a move. Instead, the Seahawks were able to go back nine spots, add some extra draft capital, and still get their guy at No. 27. While teams frequently call each other to try to move up and get picks during drafts, Schneider said something unusual happened after the Seahawks took Penny, with a team calling to see if they could trade for the player Seattle had just acquired. While that trade offer helped validate Seattle’s decision, the Seahawks weren’t interested.
“We would have taken him at 18, so that’s why we feel super blessed,” Schneider said. “Whenever you move back, people are always like, ‘Oh, you just moved back.’ It’s a pretty hard thing to do. You have to find a partner—we had several people walk away from us—and we felt real blessed that Green Bay hung in there with us. And really a true rarity is that we had a team call us after we selected him to try to acquire him. I’ve never experienced that… Isn’t that cool? It’s amazing.”
As things currently stand, the Seahawks have eight picks left, including tomorrow’s third-round pick:
Round 3: 76
Round 4: 120
Round 5: 141, 146, 156, 168
Round 6: 186
Round 7: 226
Go inside the Seahawks draft room during Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.